HIV-positive children at the Republican Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Ust-Izhora (RFE/RL)
May 15, 2006 -- The head of Russia's Federal AIDS Center has criticized his country's response to its AIDS epidemic and called for a new approach.
Vadim Pokrovsky made his comments at the first joint Eastern European and Central Asian AIDS Conference, which opened today in Moscow. He said government policies are "badly coordinated."
He said at least 100 people are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, each day in Russia.
Russia's chief public health officer, Gennady Onishchenko, said the country has allocated $100 million to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment this year.
Hundreds of activists, government officials, and health workers are participating in the three-day meeting.
Experts believe Russia faces an exploding epidemic, with the true number of people with HIV exceeding 1 million.
The United Nations has issued its annual report on the AIDS epidemic. Here are some of its findings:
- There are currently an estimated 40.3 million people living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Of those, 17.5 million are women and 2.3 million are children under the age of 15.
- There were an estimated 4.9 million new HIV infections in 2005, including 700,000 children under the age of 15.
- An estimated 3.1 million people, including 570,000 children, died of AIDS in 2005.
- According to the report, more than 25 million people have died of AIDS worldwide since the disease was recognized in 1981.
- In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the number of HIV-positive people reached 1.6 million in 2005, up from 1.2 million in 2003. The bulk of people living with HIV in the region are in the Russian Federation and Ukraine. "Ukraine's epidemic continues to grow, with more new HIV infections occurring each year, while the Russian Federation has the biggest AIDS epidemic in all of Europe," the report states. A private Russian survey cited in the report found "no postive changes in sexual behaviour, with condom use decreasing slightly among people in their twenties."
- In Central Asia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have seen the most dramatic increases of HIV infections. In the Caucasus, the situation is described "relatively stable."
Central Asia: AIDS Project Seeks To Avert Epidemic
Eastern Europe: European Commission Warns Of 'Resurgent' HIV/AIDS Epidemic
Listen to a short interview by RFE/RL's Tajik Service with Gregory Henning Mikkelsen, director of EU team for a joint EU/UN AIDS initiative. In the November 21, 2005, interview, Mikkelsen describes the epidemic in Central Asia.Real Audio Windows Media